Faculty Union accuses USC of unfair labor practices

Faculty at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences have filed charges against USC with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the University of unfair labor practices and asking for a delay in the upcoming unionization vote.

In an email sent early this afternoon, the USC Faculty Union – a group of non-tenure track faculty working to join the Service Employees International Union Local 721 –  stated that USC’s “business model of education” had left them with low wages and few benefits, a problem that could be remedied by joining a labor union. However, efforts to unionize have met with resistance from the University, resulting in the charges that were filed today, according to the email.

Adjunct faculty at the Roski School of Art and Design and the USC International Academy voted to join SEIU Local 721 in February, but the Dornsife vote resulted in a loss for pro-union organizers. However, following an appeal by the USC Faculty Union, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in April that the University’s actions prior to the vote – including a series of emails sent out by Provost Michael Quick, which discouraged faculty members from supporting unionization – made the results of the vote invalid.

“Even after a landslide unionization victory in Roski, USC has maintained an aggressive anti-union stance –- refusing to recognize the Roski union victory and promising to appeal their union vote to the highest court, flooding the National Labor Relations Board with frivolous appeals aimed at silencing our collective voice,” the Faculty Union wrote in the email. “In Dornsife, the University’s blatant law breaking during the unionization process led the Federal government to throw out the election results altogether and call for a new vote. Unfortunately, based on our past experience we have come to the clear conclusion that a re-run will be met with another onslaught of illegal tactics aimed at dividing faculty and protecting University profits.”

The Faculty Union has asked that the Dornsife vote be delayed “to protect free and fair elections for workers,” according to the email. The vote was initially supposed to take place within several weeks of the original NLRB ruling in April.

The University, however, has stated that the request to delay the vote will not significantly change the outcome, and believes that the initial results should be respected.

“Local 721 has not told us what charges they filed with the NLRB,” Provost Michael Quick said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “We are acting in good faith and lawfully. We believe Dornsife faculty should have the chance to make their will known. It seems to us that Local 721 would not be trying to block the election if they thought the faculty majority supports them.”

The NLRB ruling in April stated that pay raises offered in the week prior to the unionization vote, as well as statements implying that faculty would no longer be able to participate in governance, “create[d] a general atmosphere of fear making a free election impossible.” The University has disputed this report on the basis that Quick’s statements about faculty governance were meant to explain to faculty what would occur were they to vote for unionization.